Characters: Jack, Ianto.
Summary: Cardiff is swathed in fog; not ideal conditions for an early morning search.
Word Count: 1011
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, Any, Foggy morning,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Cardiff was almost unrecognisable, even to Jack who had lived there longer than most people had been alive. The once familiar streets were shrouded in a drifting veil of white that reduced visibility to a couple of paces and muffled sound so thoroughly he could hardly even hear his own footsteps, never mind anyone else’s. It was curiously eerie, making Jack think of old black and white horror movies where something monstrous lurked in the mist. Considering all the Weevils that inhabited Cardiff’s sewers and back alleys, that might not be too far from the truth.
Cardiff was locked in the fierce grip of winter and the nights were getting longer. Dawn wasn’t far off, but somewhere out here in the fog was an as yet unidentified creature that had come through the Rift less than an hour ago. Whatever it was, they wouldn’t be going back home to their cosy bed until it was located and captured.
Jack felt like the only living human in the world, despite the fact that he knew Ianto was only a few metres away on the other side of the street. He touched his earpiece and spoke, his voice low, unwilling to disturb the breathless silence that surrounded him. “Got anything yet?”
“Not so far.” Ianto’s reply was equally quiet. “My scanner’s not picking anything up but I’m not sure if that’s because of the fog or because there’s nothing here.”
“Stay alert, keep your gun at the ready. If it’s hostile it could easily use the fog as cover for an attack.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not taking any chances,” Ianto murmured, moving slowly along the pavement, gun cocked and ready in one hand, scanner in the other. He was keeping close to the wall, looking around himself constantly, ears straining for the slightest sound, fully alert despite the early hour.
They were both well wrapped up against the early morning chill in heavy coats, hats, scarves, and gloves; this wasn’t the kind of weather you’d want to be out in without taking sensible precautions, but Ianto was uncomfortably aware of the way his thick clothing impacted on his mobility. He wouldn’t be able to run as fast as he normally could, though the extra layers might provide a degree of protection from slashing claws and teeth. He hoped it would be enough.
Another thirty metres of pavement passed beneath their feet before Ianto’s scanner alerted him to something not of earth origin close by. He tapped his earpiece.
“Jack, my scanner’s picking up something. Readings indicate that whatever it is, it’s about halfway down the next alley.”
“Okay, stay put until I get to you.” Jack set off across the street, casting about in the fog until he at last spotted a dim, grey outline looming ahead of him. As he got closer, he could make out Ianto’s familiar, coat-bundled shape. “Hey, long time no see!”
“Funny.” Ianto spared him a brief glance, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “I can’t even remember the last time I was out in fog this thick. D’you think the Rift’s got anything to do with it?”
“Not this time. Don’t get fog like this very often these days, but it does happen occasionally. I kinda like it.”
“Yeah, makes everything mysterious. It’s like being in an old film noir. There should be gas lamps and hansom cabs, parked cars sort of spoil the atmosphere.” He pointed towards a couple of nearby cars, their bodywork bejewelled with moisture. “They look out of place.”
Jack laughed softly. “And there I was thinking it was like an old horror movie.”
“Either way, it’s very atmospheric. Shall we?” Ianto gestured to the mouth of the nearby alley. “If memory serves, this one’s a dead end.”
“I’ll go first, you cover me. We don’t know what we’re up against.” Jack pulled a torch from one of his coat pockets; there were no streetlights to provide illumination in the alleys of Cardiff and because of the fog, what light there was didn’t reach far.
Thrusting his scanner into a pocket, Ianto got out his own torch, flicking it on to light his way along the uneven and rubbish-strewn floor of the alley. Not that it helped him to see any further through the fog.
Halfway along, a cluster of dustbins and broken cardboard boxes came into view, partly blocking their way; it would be a good place for ambush. Jack moved forward cautiously, shining his torch into the shadows between the bins, then cursed quietly, swiftly holstering his Webley and dropping into a crouch.
“What is it?” Ianto moved closer, gun held down by his side, ready if it should be needed.
“It’s a Venuthinax. It’s okay, they’re harmless, they’re often kept as pets on some of the warmer planets, but they’re not designed for this kind of weather. Poor thing’s almost frozen, I don’t think it would’ve survived out here for much longer.” Jack set his torch down and scooped up the shivering, almost hairless creature. With its huge ears, it looked a bit like a half-bald bush baby crossed with a toy poodle. It was about the size of a small cat with a ruff of short fur around its shoulders and chest, a tufted tail, and furry paws, but the rest of it was hairless, including the ears.
Ianto put his gun away and opened his coat. “Give it to me.” He unzipped the hoodie he had on under his coat, tucked the small creature inside and zipped it in. It felt like a block of ice, making him shiver in sympathy. “It’s okay,” he murmured, pulling his coat back around him. “Soon have you somewhere nice and warm.”
As they made their way back along the streets to where they’d left the SUV, the surrounding fog grew gradually lighter as the sun rose and visibility began to improve. Soon the drifting vapour would burn away in the sunlight as if it had never existed. It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.